It’s okay, Veronica, I don’t wear leggings either

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Once you get through the social media feeds on the State of the Union address and “Deflate-gate,” there’s another very important public debate going on.

Christian “Mommy Blogger” Veronica Partidge has stirred up some strong feelings about leggings after calmly describing her views about how God doesn’t want her to wear yoga pants because they cause men to have unclean thoughts.

Ok.

I mean, I’m on the fence here, because its hard for me to agree with a woman who deliberately changes her behaviors to cater to men who can’t seem to control their thoughts. I’m sure there are plenty of women who can’t control their thoughts either, and who really gives a crap anyway? Oh right, Veronica Partridge does.

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On the other hand, leggings aren’t pants, and I don’t wear them in public either. Plus, in today’s society, I’m not sure it’s always lust that crosses our minds. Leggings are not the most flattering of options for bottoms, unless you’re wearing them like tights, or have a butt like Jillian Michaels’.

I’m just not that girl, so, I pull sweatpants on over my yoga pants when I’m leaving the gym. You can agree or disagree with Veronica’s choice of fabric for covering her legs, or you can disagree with her reasons for making the choices she’s made.  I have students who cover their entire bodies from head to toe – and they all have slightly different reasons for doing so. Far be it from me to try and change their minds, or judge their reasons. I guess the point is… wear what you want to wear, and leave Veronica alone.

My Roku Remote Stopped Working. Productivity is Up.

This is not my TV |photo courtesy of ceridwen

Ok, it seems pretty simple. If you watch less TV, you will get more shit done.

The problem is, two weeks into my winter break I was still working my way through Season 2 of American Horror Story on Hulu.

I. Couldn’t. Stop.

Then the Roku remote stopped responding and I just sort of left it that way, because, I had big plans for this break, plans that took a back seat to Hulu, like they do.

This is not my TV | photo courtesy of ceridwen
This is not my TV | photo courtesy of ceridwen

When I could no longer flip through literally years of during-semester television backlog, something amazing happened… I started reading. and writing. and getting shit done.

That’s not to say I was perfect and am going into the first day of the new semester totally confident – that’s not possible. But what I CAN say is that a resolution-less start to my year has included daily writing, ample time at the gym, and no dishes in the sink. Plus, I’ve got a hot second today to write a silly little blog post (SLBP)… and while I love dishing about phenomenology, SLBPs are my favorite.

Maybe you ought to try it. Just rip those batteries out, hide them somewhere, and see how much your life changes. I’m not swearing off TV – not by a long shot – but I AM suggesting that tele-temperance did me a whole lot of good. That, and, after a day or two I didn’t miss it and realized how silly the whole thing is anyway.

p.s. I found a quick hack on how to get the remote working again; I just waited until my semester break was over to actually do it. So there’s no need to worry about spoiling The Biggest Loser on Facebook…

p.p.s This particular SLBP is my 200th post on One Crafty Lady! That’s pretty neat.

I baked a cake, and it deserves a blog post

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This photo was appropriated from The Brown Elephant’s twitter feed. You should follow them. And shop there. @HbBrownElephant

First, there’s an elephant in the room (and I don’t mean that photo)… It’s been a minute since I posted on this blog. You might think that a January 1 post is meant as a comeback, or that I’m making a resolution to bake and blog more in 2015.

Nope.

I’m not into making promises I can’t keep. But, I DID recently pay to have this domain renewed, and in light of that, plus a day off and a magnificent Pinterest fail, I thought I’d come off of my crafty sabbatical for a day and share my space cake with you.

It might be the only post of 2015. Maybe. But it’s worth it.

One day last spring, I saw a solar system cake on Pinterest and a theme for the annual NYE party was born.

A few weeks ago, I attempted to find said recipe, to no avail. But then I found this Jupiter cake, which seemed like a way better idea. On top of that, I collected all the necessary goods to make cake pop moons to orbit around Jupiter.

Yesterday at about 4:30pm I realized that all the ingredients were in metric and the battery on my kitchen scale was dead. Rather than do lots and lots of math while sipping leftover Eggnog, I ditched the Jupiter bit, made a big round cake covered in yellow frosting, and stuck cake pop planets into it with a jimmy asteroid belt.

This is what remained of the space cake when I woke up the next morning. No one ate the Earth. Because my party guests are respectful. The green blob is Africa, duh.
This is what remained of the space cake when I woke up the next morning. No one ate the Earth, because my party guests are respectful. The green blob is Africa, duh.

All things considered, I call it a space cake win. And not at all worthy of this list. Should you want to make your own attempt, here are the deets:

Fudgy Cake Pops (Modified from the cake pop pan package directions):

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used half a block of semi-sweet baking chocolate instead)
  • 1/2 C. butter
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 2 TB Cocoa
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 C. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • lollipop sticks
  • 24 oz. chocolate bark coating (I used more baking chocolate)

Directions (to make my whole space cake extravaganza, double the recipe):

  1. Preheat oven to 325-deg F. Grease and flour both sides of your cake pop pan. And don’t listen to any of that garbage on the Internet saying that you need a cake pop maker. That’s a glorified waffle iron – a uni-tasker that takes up way too much precious cupboard space. Don’t do it. Just get the pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. Add sugar and cocoa, stir until blended. Add eggs one at a time, stirring as you go.
  4. Add flour and salt, stir until blended.
  5. Fill each well of the bottom side of the cake pop pan with a heaping tablespoon of batter. Place the top side of the pan and lock into place. Bake 15-20 minutes.
  6. Cool the pan on a wire rack 2-3 minutes, and then transfer the pops to the rack. Meanwhile, pour the remaining batter into a round 8″ greased and floured pan. Bake approximately 50 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Melt the remaining chocolate in a pan. Dip the top of the lollipop sticks into the chocolate and push halfway into each pop. The chocolate is like glue to keep the sticks in the pops.
  8. Frost, dip, or decorate as desired. I included Pluto, because, debates about its planetary relevance aside, why not have more cake pops?

Lemon Frosting (adapted from Betty Crocker’s cookbook):

Ingredients and Directions:

  • Blend together 2 C. of confectioner’s sugar with 1/4 C. room temperature butter
  • Stir in approximately 2-3 TB heavy cream and 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • Add a few drops of yellow or orange food coloring (because this is going to be the sun)

So the rest is pretty intuitive. Frost the cake when it’s cool, add your sprinkle asteroid belt, and decorate your planets, sticking the pops into the sun. The dusted black plate adds a star-studded stratosphere to the whole thing.

#winning, and Happy New Year.

 

A confession, an admission, and a proclamation

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It’s Spring Break at UIC, and I’m taking stock of a few things. Having a few precious hours to reflect on my life, this is what I’ve come up with:

Confession: I’ve broken every rule of blogging lately, and I’ve let this little hub of amusements wither away. As far as the Internet is concerned, this site is totally dead. Today I’d like to confess that it’s only going to get worse.

Admission: I’ve been accepted to the PhD program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (what?!?). So that means my really busy schedule just got a whole lot busier.

Proclamation: I’m resolving today to learn how to say no – to recognize my limits (because I DO actually have them).

Something’s got to give, and unfortunately, for now, that’s One Crafty Lady. Effective immediately, we’re on a hiatus. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep up with my life… I’ll still be micro-blogging on Tumblr, and you should catch me there. Maybe someday this blog and I will be together again, but let’s be honest: I don’t have time to make a recipe more complicated than instant rice, never mind blog about it.

So I’m asking you to not forget about me, but to make a shift to Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram (or heck, even Snap Chat). I want and need to stay connected to real people (or at least the virtual ones that I think are reading my blog).

OH, and if you want to follow the PhD adventure beginning this Fall, you can catch me at Art Intercepts too.

Valentine’s Day Surf and Turf on the Cheap

Valentine's dinner

Many a Valentines Schmalentines have been spent drinking alone in a bubble bath. I’m not a fan of Hallmark holidays in general, and especially ones that also, typically, break most people’s New Years resolutions.

But I have to say, this Valentine’s Day rocked. We opted to stay in and cook, and did a damn fine job of it, too. I pulled some pork chops out of the freezer, and we found a really good bargain on seafood at the grocery store this week. Add some crusty bread and roasted asparagus, and voila! Delish. And inexpensive.

This feast of pork, lobster tails and opilio crab is likely to cost at least $25 an entree at a restaurant, plus wine, plus valet, plus tip, plus stupid traffic (and the traffic WAS extremely stupid that day). We figured we came in at about two for the price of one, BOGO, if you will, and didn’t have to put shoes on. Win win.

Prepping the dinner table
Prepping the dinner table
Crab + bread = winning
Crab + bread = winning

Boiled Crab Legs

(courtesy of Betty Crocker, and in case you missed this recipe the first time…)

In a big, covered soup pot, boil water seasoned with Old Bay, lemon wedges, parsley, and celery.

When water is boiling, drop crab in until submerged and cover.

If not able to fully submerge, turn the crab occasionally to ensure equal cooking time.

For live crab, cook until pink, about 20 minutes. The legs from the grocery store take about half that time.

Remove from pot, cool until able to handle, and serve with melted butter doused with lemon juice.

Prepping for Strawberry Shortcake (but this is the topic of another post...)
Prepping for Strawberry Shortcake (but this is the topic of another post…)

Polar Vortex PressReader Giveaway!

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It wasn’t that long ago that electronic journalism was a crazy, farfetched idea. But in 2014, weekday commutes and Sunday coffees are now accompanied by iPads more often than newspapers.

As print journalism sadly fades away, electronic publications hosted by major newspapers are becoming increasingly high quality sources of news.

And you don’t get black smudges on your fingers.

The cool thing about an electronic press database like PressReader is that you can have virtually any newspaper or magazine you want at your fingertips, without having to purchase separate online subscriptions.

photos courtesy of PressReader
photos courtesy of PressReader

I’ve tried out PressReader before, and with the absence of an iPad in my life decided that an annual membership wasn’t for me.

So, I’m giving it to you instead!

I’m so pumped to have the opportunity to offer a FREE annual membership to PressReader for one lucky person who reads my blog (it could even be you, Mom…). Check out PressReader, see if it’s something that might be good in your life, and then see below for how to get your hands on a free year of electronic news:

So, it’s cold in Chicago right now. It’s been cold for awhile. It was so fracking cold that we cancelled life for two days. Then it stayed cold and we couldn’t justify canceling life again so we just put on lots of long underwear and went about our days.

The endless series of Polar Vortices seems like as good a reason as any to give something away to my readers. So here’s what you need to do to win:

Write a short (short) story about what you would do with a snow day (or polar vortex day, or in the South 1/4″ of snow day, etc). Do you like to stay in and drink hot chocolate and watch Law and Order all day? Bake scones in a snuggie? Build snow people? Whatever it is, make sure it somehow involves a few moments of catching up on the news with your free year of PressReader.

Submit your story by making a comment below this post, and be sure to do it by February 28!

Also, include your email so I know where to contact you if (when) you win!

One lucky reader will be chosen at random from a hat on March 1, and will receive a whole year of free news and magazines from all over the world. Neat, right?!?

p.s. If you didn’t already click on this link above, you’ll want to do that now (trust me).